The Collierville Victory Garden was founded in 2005 by five Memphis Area Master Gardeners who wanted to donate their time and expertise by growing fresh vegetables for the Collierville Food Pantry. Initially referred to as the Collierville Volunteer Garden, the name eventually evolved into Collierville Victory Garden to pay homage to the community gardens grown during WWI and WWII that were used to alleviate food shortages. In 2007 the garden moved to its current home located at and generously donated by Collierville Christian Church.
Having philanthropic roots and intentions since its inception, the garden began as a part of The Garden Writer’s Association’s Plant-A-Row for the Hungry Project. Plant-A-Row (PAR), is a nationwide program that encourages gardeners across the country to plant an extra row of vegetables in their home gardens to feed the hungry in their respective communities. Instead of planting just one row of vegetables to be donated, though, Collierville Victory in its entirety is grown for the sole purpose of helping the hungry. That’s why you’ll never find Collierville Victory Garden’s produce at local farmers markets.
Each year Collierville Victory Garden donates between 2,500-4,000 pounds of fresh produce to organizations such as Social Ministries in Shelby County, Collierville Food Bank, Memphis Union Mission, Catholic Charities and Moriah House. “When we’re planting, we make sure we’re growing southern favorites; you know, vegetables that people can cook such as collard greens, mustard greens, tomatoes, okra, and shell peas” comments garden volunteer, Teresa Devlin. However, vegetables aren’t the only thing growing at Collierville Victory Garden. Volunteers also have been known to deliver bouquets of zinnias to Page Robbins Adult Day Care Center and Collierville Christian Church on a weekly basis.
Collierville Victory Garden strives to be a sustainable garden, making informed decisions on plants, crop rotation, water conservation, composting, weeding, and pest prevention. In an effort to attract migrating pollinators, the garden dedicates significant portions of its growing space to maintain a bee and butterfly haven. Collierville Victory Garden also prides itself on being a demonstration garden. This means that the garden has an educational focus and is often the first to try out new plants or growing techniques so that they can teach the community the most current sustainable and environmentally sound gardening practices. Various scout troops, students, garden clubs and even teachers can be regularly found taking tours of the garden so they can be taught by the Master Gardeners and volunteers first-hand and incorporate the lessons learned into their curriculum.
Collierville Victory Garden is fully funded by the Memphis Area Master Gardeners and Collierville Christian Church making volunteers their greatest need. “We welcome anybody who wants to get dirty and help us; we can teach you how to pull weeds, plant and harvest” says Memphis Area Master Gardener, Val Tingley. If you’re lacking a green thumb but still have a love of plants, be sure to keep an eye out for the Memphis Area Master Gardeners’ Spring Fling fundraiser at the Agricenter this March where Collierville Victory Garden will be donating hundreds of potted plants for sale.
Those who are interested in learning more about guided tours or volunteer opportunities at the garden can visit Collierville Victory Garden’s Facebook page or Memphis Area Master Gardeners’ website at memphisareamastergardeners.org.
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